LadyLand: A PAPER Family Affair

14 views 5:32 pm 0 Comments July 2, 2024

The best Pride party was Under the K Bridge… horsegiirL played… okay, so the jokes write themselves! But beyond being an apt location for our friends who dabble in equine medicine, LadyLand, the long-running pride festival by New York nightlife impresario Ladyfag, was a verifiable who’s who of queer pop culture.

This year, LadyLand returned to the park beneath the Kosciuszko Bridge in Greenpoint, and the festival made the most of its new expansive surroundings by booking a stellar crop of DJs and performers. Tinashe was announced late as a Friday headliner (replacing Kim Petras) to continue her imperial era. The singer, often lovingly referred to as Bushwick’s Beyoncé, celebrated her newly charting single, “Nasty,” among a crowd of queer Brooklynites who have been riding for her since before “2 On.”

Arca headlined Saturday’s lineup, her mind-melting music serving as the perfect catharsis for a crowd of queers in need of exorcism after a long Pride Saturday.

And then there was PAPER cover star Mahmood, who moved with pure confidence. At one point he brought out his DJ and reflected about how they had been making music together since their teens. As they stood in front of a large NYC crowd, you could feel a sense of triumph emulating from the Italian creatives, who are now commanding crowds far away from their native Milan.

PAPER family Slayyyter also performed (she can command any audience like Moses at the Red Sea), alongside acts like Cakes Da Killa, Sevyn, Fashion, Aaliyah’s Interlude and Julia Fox (who continues her dabble in sonics). And lest we forget Thee Countess Luann, who sang extended versions of her scant few releases to a crowd that regarded her with the rapturous energy of an early-2000s Britney.

It’s a testament to Ladyfag and LadyLand as an enterprise that they somehow managed to pull off a festival at this scale while still making it feel so in-the-know. The DJs the festival booked are the girls who play our clubs. Performers like Jonah Almost, Blue Hawaii, LSDXOXO and Tama Gucci are major to us. I wouldn’t expect anyone to bank selling thousands of tickets on these underground darlings, but the fact that LadyLand does and can is proof of what can be achieved when the people holding the purse are the same as the people in the club. Taste still matters. And taste can sell.

The number of attendees is evidenced by that, but so were those who could be spotted in the crowd: it-girls like DJ Miss Parker, Honey Balenciaga and River Moon (who all had on-stage appearances, but stayed around to hobnob). PAPER columnist Linux was seen around her special Paul’s Dolls activation. This is Pride weekend, and there’s always more to do, but when so much is happening under the Kosciuszko Bridge, it’s hard to resist a twirl beneath the overpass.

Someone else who couldn’t resist joining the fun? Reverend Mother Madonna herself. Rumors swirled late last week that Madonna would be in attendance, but no one knew just exactly what she would be doing. She could have been a guest of Arca’s, who appeared at her Barcelona show. Or, she could have done a stint with Bob the Drag Queen, who was the master of ceremonies throughout her epic Celebration Tour (which recently included her record-breaking free show in Rio for 1.6 million attendees).

It turned out that the “Vogue” singer’s presence was especially fitting, as she served as a judge at the Vogue Ball House Battle between four mainstay NYC ballroom houses: Tisci, Balenciaga, Alpha and Omega, and Miyake-Mugler (who ended up taking home the win). Judging alongside Madonna was a low-key, casual crew: Bob the Drag Queen, Sevdaliza, Arca and Tokischa, all sitting together to serve skeptical looks as the houses dipped in front of them. DJing before the official competition started was none other than Madonna’s preteen daughter, Estere, who made her DJ debut as DJ QUEEN ESTERE. And moving things along was icon Kevin Prodigy and Dashaun Wesley, the former host of HBO’s voguing competition show Legendary, of which all houses in attendance competed in.

As I watched in awe upon Madonna sitting alongside my personal heroes, I wondered if this whole image emerged from my gay pop culture subconscious. But miraculously, it hadn’t. It was real and true and all happening right there, underneath the Kosciuszko Bridge.

Photography: Matteo Prandoni / Ricardo Gomez

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